Vittorio De Sica's The Children Are Watching Us

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Vittorio De Sica’s The Children Are Watching Us (1942) is a tragic film which takes places in Rome and Alassio (a seaside resort town) and is shot from the perspective of Prico, a child, who watches as his family falls apart due to his mother’s infidelity and his father’s eventual suicide. The behaviour of Nina (the mother) in the film would be extremely scandalous during the time it was produced and De Sica works throughout the film to undermine fascist ideals. Il Signor Max (1937), directed by Mario Camerini, is about a man called Gianni who, through a case of mistaken identity, enters the glamourous world of the upper class and attempts to woo Paola, an aristocrat. However, the romantic comedy ends with Gianni falling in love with Paola’s…show more content…
While De Sica’s choice of protagonist in the Children are Watching Us is meant to expose the flawed nature of fascist values, De Sica’s character in Camerini’s film is used to accentuate fascist ideals in the middle class. Although Gianni at first does not appear to fully engage with fascist societal norms, through his experience with the upper class he learns to embrace these norms. At the beginning of the film, Gianni is embarrassed of his middle class background and feels compelled to justify his decision to run his father’s newsstand to his aristocratic ex-classmate, Max Varaldo. Through a case of mistaken identity, Gianni has the chance to become part of the upper class which is what he thinks he wants. Yet at the end of the film, he has rejected the upper class and their glamourous lives in favor of a more meaningful life as a middle class man. Camerini chose Gianni to direct the narrative of the film because he acts as an intermediary between the two classes. Since Gianni can enter both the world of the upper class and that of the middle class, Camerini invites the audience to compare and contrast these social classes. The juxtaposition of the classes allows Camerini to highlight the flaws of the upper class and the values of the middle class. This preference of the middle class over the upper…show more content…
Camerini characterizes Uncle Pietro’s family as a harmonious, strong familial unit with a strong man at the head who is supported by his wife. Indeed the only issue the family seem to face is dealing with Gianni and his wild schemes. Yet, in The Children are Watching Us, the film is centred on the dissolution of Prico’s family which is an utter disaster. Andrea is not the strong head of the family, nor is Nina the supportive wife and mother. Even their extended family, such as the grandmother or aunt, show a lack of family values as they are both unwilling to take care of Prico as it would inconvenience their lives. De Sica portrays the family in this way to show that the consequences of fascist society are the dysfunction of the familial

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